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Man says Weiss Lake motel refused him a room because he’s in a wheelchair, motel responds

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 10:54 PM CDT
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CENTRE, Ala. (WBRC) - A Georgia man claims he was refused service at a local motel because he’s in a wheelchair.

Scott East of Villa Rica, GA recorded the incident on his cellphone and posted it online. The video went viral.

It happened Monday at the Weiss Lake Lodge.

East said his family was on vacation in the area and had contacted the motel minutes before arriving to confirm they could accommodate him.

“They said everything was good to go,” said East.

But when the family tried to check in, East said they were turned away.

“The lady got to shaking her head and hand, no,” East recalled.

The lodge manager, James McDonald, didn’t want to show his face but did want to offer an explanation.

“It was a miscommunication on everybody’s part,” McDonald said.

McDonald said he wasn’t on-site that day and the woman in the video, the owner’s wife, had a language barrier.

“The lady point-blank said’ we do not like wheelchairs’,” East asserted.

McDonald said the motel would never discriminate against anyone.

“People stay here all the time that are handicapped. We have dogs here [too],” McDonald said.

McDonald said the property has two handicap-accessible rooms, but they needed to be cleaned and the motel was short-staffed Monday.

The motel is one level and McDonald admitted all the rooms are accessible by wheelchair with one difference to the full accessible rooms.

“These two have open baths where you can fit a wheelchair in, the others you can’t,” McDonald explained.

East said that he was never given the option to wait for the room to be cleaned or stay in a traditional room.

“If the room was dirty, why didn’t y’all tell me to come back,” East questioned.

While questioning the owner’s wife at the registration counter, East said the owner arrived, got out of his car, and told his wife to call 9-1-1. That exchange was also caught on video.

“He thought his wife was being threatened. That’s all,” McDonald said. East said he never threatened anyone. McDonald reached out to East Wednesday afternoon, he said to offer an apology and explain why they didn’t put the family in a traditional room. The motel also offered East a free stay the next time they visited.

“I am so sorry this happened,” McDonald said.

East said he did not accept their explanation.

“I just don’t want this to happen to another person,” said East. “If you don’t have a clean room, just tell me the rooms aren’t clean and to come back in two hours, don’t try to say now, three days later, try to make me look like a fool,” East exclaimed.

East said he had been in contact with an attorney and was considering legal action.

He had no plans of visiting the Weiss Lake Lodge again.

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